State Democrats have proposed several bills to end tax exemptions and dedicate the resulting revenue to social services, which have been hard-hit by budget cuts.
On Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats presented about a dozen proposals to end tax breaks, including exemptions for corporate banks and breaks for purchasing bedding for chicken coops.
But after Initiative 1053 passed last fall, lawmakers must come up with a two-thirds supermajority vote in both houses to create new taxes or make any changes to current tax preferences. The Democrats noted this has made it nearly impossible to close tax loopholes and raise revenue to save much-needed programs.
“We believe that these restraints have produced a budget that, while necessary, is not sufficient to meet the needs of Washington’s families, economy or communities,” said Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island.
The all-cuts budget plans from both chambers show the product of that requirement: The House’s proposal cuts $4.4 billion and the Senate’s $4.8 billion in state support for mainly social services and education.
The bills come a week after thousands of protesters from labor groups across the state rallied at the Capitol calling for legislators to close corporate tax breaks instead of cutting services. Republicans argue that the tax breaks are there to help businesses and encourage job growth in the economy.
A few bills have been introduced in the House, as well, to close the sales-tax exemption for out-of-state shoppers to bring in $83.7 million in the next biennium. While the proposals were only recently put forward, Republicans so far have not been on board with any of them.